The unbeaten Illini and Shockers slide into spots No. 23 and No. 24 on the s-curve as the week opened on December 3. Close behind are Notre Dame (No. 25) and Baylor (No. 26). Our top four s-curve spots remain the same: 1. Duke, 2. Indiana, 3. Louisville, 4. Syracuse.
December 3 – Power 24 update.
We’re roughly halfway through the non-conference season. Several opportunities remain for teams to post resume building wins. An eight-game resume isn’t much to work with. There are teams which have yet to play a true road game. There are teams who have yet to leave their home court. There are teams who have yet to play a high-quality opponent.
Enjoy another good week of hoops.
Fresh off a Battle for Atlantis title in the Bahamas, Duke has vaulted to No. 1 on the s-curve in our Power 24. It’s hard to argue the Blue Devils’ results: wins over two preseason No. 1 seeds (Kentucky and Louisville on neutral courts), along with quality victories over Minnesota and Virginia Commonwealth (VCU). That’s a pretty impressive slate of early season wins.
Indiana – which opened No. 1 on the s-curve – is at No. 2, and would remain a No. 1 seed in the Midwest if we were putting together a new bracket projection. The Hoosiers are followed by Louisville and Syracuse as projected No. 1 seeds (spots 3 and 4 on the curve).
Power 24 – November 26.
Remember, this year’s Power 24 is a reflection of the current s-curve rankings. As such, the rankings are a little different than traditional polls. That said, it’s worth noting that we still have a small sample size. The s-curve is much more fluid now than it will be in February. By then, we have more complete profile. A quick start doesn’t guarantee success, and a less-than-ideal start isn’t a deal-breaker – especially for power conference teams.
On a quick note: Oklahoma State and Colorado are the most surprising newcomers to the Power 24. And Illinois – with it’s Maui Invitational title – moved from just outside the bracket to No. 26 on the s-curve. Wichita State has also made a big jump, coming in at No. 25, one spot from the Top 24.
Enjoy another great week of hoops!
The Road to Atlanta begins November 9. Time to unveil our preseason Power 24. The headliners: Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas. Those would be our projected No. 1 seeds as slots 1-4 on the s-curve. A quick note: this year’s Power 24 will reflect the s-curve used for seeding teams into a bracket. Hopefully, that provides a slightly different view of the NCAA Tournament landscape.
Now, to the Power 24 itself. It’s a starting point. That’s it. We don’t know how the season will play out. We’ll have surprises. We’ll have disappointments.
Here are a few quick thoughts:
– The Big Ten opens the 2012-13 campaign loaded with quality teams. Beyond IU, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan could all be Top 4 seeds in March. All four begin the season in the Top 12 of our s-curve.
– The Atlantic 10 is a deep, talented league. If one or two teams separate, they will most certainly climb the rankings. But if those teams clump, you could easily see up to five teams make the Field of 68 and all be seeded between lines 7-10. VCU is our pick to win it. The Rams open at No. 25 on the s-curve. That would put them as the highest seven-seed.
– The Pac-12 will be improved – especially at the top. Arizona and UCLA should make a splash on the national scene.
– UNLV and San Diego State should wage a great battle for the Mountain West title. Both are Top 20 capable teams.
– How will NC State handle high expectations? Duke and North Carolina won’t just hand an ACC title to the Wolfpack. In some ways, many are overlooking the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.
– Syracuse shouldn’t be far beyond Louisville in the Big East. And don’t forget about Cincinnati or Notre Dame.
Preseason opinions vary greatly beyond the top two or three teams. Which makes the season tip-off even more exciting. It’s time for another journey toward Selection Sunday.
By most statistical measures, the Big Ten is the No. 1 conference through the first month-plus of the season. The league is first in the RPI, first in overall winning percentage, and its teams have compiled wins over top teams in other BCS conferences. Thus, it’s no real surprise the Big Ten has six teams in this week’s Power 24 – led by Ohio State, which stays at No. 2. Yes, the Buckeyes lost at Kansas but Jared Sullinger didn’t play. Winning at KU is tough at full strength, so not having a potential first team All-American on the floor is a valid consideration.
Kentucky stays at No. 1. Even though the Wildcats played a rather poor first half in Bloomington, they fought back and nearly pulled out a huge road victory. No reason to drop UK for a one-point loss in an extremely hostile environment. Syracuse holds firm at No. 3. It would have been easy to move the Orange into the No. 1 spot once UK and OSU lost. Syracuse may well prove to be the best team. As of Monday, however, the Orange had yet to play a true road game. We’ll re-evaluate the order once ‘Cuse plays at NC State this weekend.
Indiana and Illinois join the rankings this week. Memphis and Arizona fall out. Arizona remains close thanks to a tight road loss at Florida. Memphis has tossed aside most of its non-conference chances, and will have a difficult time challenging for a Top 5 seed in March. Congratulations to Murray State on its win at Memphis Sunday. The Racers begin the week at No. 32 on the S-curve. That would be an 8-seed. Quite an accomplishment for a team from the Ohio Valley Conference.
With the entry deadline for the 2011 NBA Draft behind us, time for an updated Power 24 here at Bracketville. The first two selections were pretty easy: North Carolina and Kentucky. Harrison Barnes and a host of other talented Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill. UNC came within a game of the Final Four this past March, and Carolina should be an early favorite to cut down the nets in 2012. Close behind is Kentucky. Yes, the Wildcats lost Brandon Knight, but Terrence Jones decided to stay and will be joined by yet another top-flight recruiting class.
If you think of the Top 4 teams as potential No. 1 seeds, the remaining slots belong to Syracuse and Ohio State. The Orange return a host of talent and figure to open play in November as the Big East favorite. Once Jared Sullinger decided to stay in Columbus, the Buckeyes became the team to beat in the Big Ten – again.
The rest of the Top 10 looks like this … Connecticut, Louisville, Duke, Vanderbilt, Arizona, and Memphis.
Wisconsin opens at No. 11 thanks to Jordan Taylor staying in Madison. The Badgers are followed by Kansas, Alabama, Michigan and Florida in the Top 15. Then we find Marquette, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Xavier and Missouri rounding out the Top 20. The Big East will be good again – but not as strong as this past season.
Our final Power 24 spots go to … Florida State, Texas, Gonzaga, and UCLA.
You could easily make a case for several other teams. Others considered were Baylor, Texas AM, George Mason, Michigan State, Villanova, Washington, West Virginia, Temple, Georgetown, Georgia, Colorado, and Butler. Butler will again be good, but it’ll be hard to replace to replace both Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard.
Through games played December 19, we seem to have a Big 3 in college hoops – Duke, Ohio State, Kansas. Who belongs (and in what order) in the next six spots is more heavily debated. In our latest Power 24 (Dec. 20), Connecticut takes spot No. 4 and projects as the final No. 1 seed. By winning a top-heavy Maui Invitational, the Huskies have a solid non-conference profile. How the Big East plays out remains to be seen. Note: Power 24 reflects games through December 19 only.
Three more Big East teams – Pittsburgh, Georgetown, Syracuse – arrive next. No real argument if you have a different order. Georgetown has done the best work overall, reflected in its No. 1 RPI ranking (through Dec. 19). Part of the Power 24 also projects ahead, so Pitt remains a slight step in front looking forward. Syracuse has yet to play a true road game; we have to consider that point.
Reaching No. 8 is San Diego State – putting the Aztecs in line for a No. 2 seed in the West Region. SDSU would love games in Tucson and then Anaheim. In comparison, San Diego State has won four true road games and played six total games away from home – opening with five straight outside San Diego. Wins at Gonzaga and over Wichita State and St. Mary’s look to be NCAA-caliber. Their next two are in Las Vegas – making it eight road/neutral games in non-conference play. That type of challenge will pay big dividends in March. When you factor in the overall strength of the Mountain West – especially at the top – there’s no reason to think SDSU can’t earn a No. 2 seed. A No. 1? That may depend more on what happens in the Big 10, Big East, and Big 12. What the Aztecs also need is for BYU, UNLV and New Mexico to continue playing well. As of December 20, the Mountain West ranks No. 6 in conference RPI (according to CollegeRPI.com).
Weekly bracket updates return January 3. Other than some seeding evaluations, not a lot of changes from the December 6 bracket. Drexel is one new arrival, replacing Butler. We’ll have a much better feeling about the Bulldogs’ at-large chances after the Diamond Head Classic this week in Honolulu. The field includes Baylor, Florida State, Washington State, and Mississippi State. Oklahoma State is the other new addition. The once-beaten Cowboys (10-1) may not survive the Big 12, but they have done more than Cincinnati (No. 329 non-conference schedule). The Bearcats may well regret a two-month hiatus to start the season. With no marquis wins out-of-conference, it’ll take some hefty work in the Big East to be in the discussion on Selection Sunday.
Other teams who are just on the doorstep: Xavier, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi, VCU, Maryland, Virginia Tech, UCLA, and South Carolina. We also can’t sleep on Marquette, Iowa State, and Missouri State. Have a different opinion? Rebounds always welcome. E-mail at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at twitter.com/BracketguyDave.
Duke and Ohio State remain 1-2 in our latest Power 24. Kansas moves up to No. 3. The Jayhawks put together an impressive second-half against Memphis in New York, and now await the arrival of Josh Selby on Saturday.
This is where it gets a bit more tricky. Fresh off a virtual road win against Pittsburgh, Tennessee vaults into the No. 4 spot, followed closely by Connecticut. Both the Vols and Huskies have impressed – and surprised. Tennessee because of all the off-court issues surrounding head coach Bruce Pearl. Connecticut because few of us anticipated Kemba Walker would carry his team to a Maui championship and beyond.
View our December 13 edition of Power 24.
Any number of teams could claim spots this week. The only changes: Temple returns following its win over Georgetown, and Washington leaves after falling a point short at Texas A-M. It’s not a bad loss, but the Huskies (Washington variety) have missed on most of their “good win” chances – beating only Virginia in Maui.
Louisville sits at No. 25 – one spot out of the rankings. Good win last weekend over UNLV, but like all of the Cardinals’ wins to date, it was at home. Louisville hasn’t yet left its new KFC Yum! Center surroundings. That changes on a Dec. 23 trip to Western Kentucky. By comparison, UNLV (No. 17 this week) has played just four home games; winning five away from Vegas, including two true road games and three at the 76 Classic. At this point, UNLV’s overall body of work is more impressive.
Rebounds always welcome. Next Power 24 update and bracket update will be Monday, December 20.